DC comics


Collects Wonder Woman vol. 4. issues 1-6. The New 52 relaunch.

Writer: Brian Azzarello
Artist: Cliff Chiang

While the previous relaunch was centered on Diana as the superhero, this one is focused on Azzarello’s version of Greek mythology. I mostly enjoyed that, when I got over just how bizarre the gods looked. Goddesses were very Western pretty. However, the art is quite different from usual superhero art style, which I thought fitted will with the mythology theme. Oh and no other superheroes were seen this time.

The story starts with weird people doing weird stuff: a very dark man killing three women in order to get them to prophecy for him and a naked woman in a peacock feather cloak butchering horses. Then we jump to a farm where a half-bird man is trying to save a woman and her baby from bloodthirsty centaurs. The man teleports the woman to Diana who kills the centaurs.

It turns out that the half-bird man is Hermes who is trying to protect the newest of Zeus’ by-blows who has born yet. The young woman, Zola, is pretty puzzled by all this. Diana agrees to protect her and the child when it’s born. Also, Zeus is missing, presumed dead and many powerful gods want to be the new king of the gods. The contestant include Poseidon, Haades, and Apollo. Hera also isn’t happy about any sort of demotion.

Also, for some reason Azzarello (or perhaps the DC editorial? I’m pretty sure that he wouldn’t be able to changed that just by himself) decided to change Diana’s origin. Until this point, Diana’s mother Hippolyta made her out of clay and the gods just breathed Diana into life. Now, however, Diana is one of Zeus’ kids. I’m not sure why the change was made or why it was needed. At least, the way that Hippolyta tells it, it wasn’t a rape but mutual attraction. Still, she didn’t tell Diana about it which was even stranger and really not cool. So this was the main thing I didn’t care for. I also really didn’t care for the way that Hera’s only motivation in the story is to kill or hurt Zeus’ by-blows. Granted, that’s what the mythology tells us but it still feels awfully petty for a goddess, especially since Zeus is supposedly dead.

Like I said, art is quite different from normal superhero stuff. I mostly liked it. However, it was strange how the art didn’t have cheesecake for Diana and the Amazons but Hera was running around naked all the time… Since the male gods all got strange makeovers, like Hades being just a meter tall and lit candles on his head, they could have given the goddesses something similar.

Diana here is a confident heroine, a far cry from the previous relaunch. I remember that I really liked this when it first came out. While I still like it, not as much. I have the single issues, rather than the collection.

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Collects Wonder Woman vol. 3 issues 1-4 and Annual 1

Writer: Allan Heinberg
Artists: Terry and Rachel Dodson, Gary Frank, Jon Sibal

This is WW’s second relaunch, after she killed Maxwell Lord to stop his mind control powers. That led into Infinite Crisis (which I still haven’t read) and the “one year later” relaunch.

At the beginning, we find out that Diana has disappeared and left Donna Troy to continue as Wonder Woman. However, people aren’t convinced that Donna’s up to the task. Diana’s old enemies Cheetah and the Giganta have kidnapped Steve Trevor to lure Diana out. Instead they get Donna. Together with Dr. Psyho they overwhelm Donna.

Meanwhile, the Department of Metahuman Affairs is back in action. Diana has taken up her old identity as Diana Prince and is now one of the D. M. A’s secret agents. Her partner and love interest is (insufferable) Nemesis. They’re sent to retrieve Donna.

Diana meets with Cassie who is very angry with her and Robin who had known that Diana is alive and in hiding. The World Court has dropped murder charges against Diana but she’s reluctant to return into her WW role. Even at the end, she’s still searching for herself.

This was an okay beginning to the relaunched series. We got to see a lot of guest-starring female heroes, besides Cassie and Donna, and Diana was really a part of the superhero community. We also got to see her in action without her powers for while, which was nice. I also really enjoyed all the mythology even though this story focused more on Diana’s superhero side.

Still, this isn’t a required reading by any means. Also, the ending has lots of characters, both heroes and villains which could well confuse people who don’t know WW. Also, Hercules shows up and he’s trying to convince people that he’s really a hero and longer the same man who raped Amazons, including Diana’s mother. Personally, I thought Diana was too forgiving with him. She’s not naive. I wouldn’t have minded seeing more of Donna as WW. She kept the title for a year, surely she had lots of adventures.

Dodsons’ art is lush and suits WW very well. However, it does have a lot of cheesecake, although not as much as the previous Birds of Prey comics.

The final story in the Annual is draw by Gary Frank who has very different style from the Dodsons, so it was a little jarring. It’s a brief explanation about Diana’s, Donna’s, and Cassie’s intertwined history and some flirting with Nemesis.

The second book in a duology of books set in the Flash/Arrow tv-show universe. It’s also a crossover between the Flash and Arrow tv-shows this time focusing on team Arrow.

Publication year: 2017
Format: print
Publisher: Titan books
Page count: 409

The second book in the Flash and Arrow crossover starts immediately after the end of the first book, the Haunting of Barry Allen. I think it’s set during fourth season of Arrow because team Arrow is Oliver, Felicity, Digg, and Thea as Speedy. Oliver is in relationship with Felicia and she’s the CEO of Palmer Technologies.

Barry, the Flash, is experiencing blurring when he’s afraid or stressed out and it’s getting worse. He blurs (becomes motionless and insubstantial while hallucinating about his elder self and about Zoom as Wells) more often even though Oliver has taught him mediation which previously worked to keep the blurs under control. They’re happening because of otherworldly plasma is multiplying in his blood stream. However, there might be a way to save him. One of Queen Consolidates’ previous employees worked on a wat to open stable wormholes. Since the plasma came (apparently) to Barry’s blood stream during the wormhole incident (at the end of season 1), Cisco and Felicity think they can cure Barry with the machine. But the inventor is dead. Now the heroes must find his work and use it to cure Barry. However, other people want the research, too.

As a secondary plot, we get to see Oliver and Thea before Oliver goes to the island. Oliver has a Croatan friend Ghasi who gets into fights often. Oliver’s other friends don’t really like him and Thea downright despises him, but Oliver stays by his friend. In present time, Ghasi wants the research as well and is a cunning opponent. In the flashbacks we also get to see characters from the first season, such as Oliver’s parents and Tommy Merlyn.

The main POV character is Oliver but we also get small glimpses from the POVs of Felicity and Barry.

This was just as a delightful read as the first book in the series: if you liked it, you’re most likely going to like this as well unless you don’t like Oliver. This being an Arrow book, it’s centered on Team Arrow. In fact, the story switches very quickly to Star City. Barry and later Cisco joins them, but the rest of the team Flash don’t really show. This was my big disappointment: I like the Flash show much more than Arrow. However, I don’t think this book was as depressing as the Arrow show usually is: nobody left a relationship, died, or messed up their friendship. In fact, it’s quite upbeat for an Arrow episode. It was also great to see John and Lyla kicking ass together because the show doesn’t give them enough action scenes together.

Collects The Flash 130-141, material from 80-Page Giant; Green Lantern 96; Green Arrow 130; & material from JLA: Secret Files. First published in 1997 and 1998.

Writers: Grant Morrison and Mark Millar
Artists: a lot

This is the first Flash comic I’ve read because his own comic hasn’t been published here in Finland. I think only Batman and Superman have had their own comics here before recent years. Also, we got one Green Arrow/Green Lantern cross-over publication years ago. In the last couple of years, we got three Green Lantern albums and one Wonder Woman album. Of course, I’ve read Justice League comics and that’s the way I’m familiar with Wally West.

However, I was completely unfamiliar with Wally’s supporting crew: Impulse, Max Mercury, and Linda Park. Alright, Linda was briefly in the Flash tv-show, as were Jay Garrick and Jesse Quick but they all seem quite different from this comic incarnation. So, I was really thrown in the deep end in these stories, character-wise. And this is set in Keystone City, not the Central City of the TV-show.

It collects four three-part stories and three one-off issues.

In “Emergency stop” the speedsters encounter the Suit who shows them Wally’s dead body and challenges Wally to stop his own death. Wally’s legs are broken during the story.

“Death at the top of the world” is a cross-over with Green Lantern (Kyle) and Green Arrow (Connor) where they take Wally to an Alaskan cruise for a holiday. Unfortunately, three supervillains are also on the cruise.

In “The Human Race” alien beings force Wally to race against a member of another alien species and if Wally doesn’t win, Earth will be destroyed. If Wally’s opponent wins, his world is destroyed. How can Wally prevent both?

In “the Black Flash” Max realized that death has come to take a speedster, specifically Wally. In the end, Wally races Death itself.

These were all pretty entertaining. Wally works really nicely together with the other speedsters and it feels like he’s part of a speedster/superhero family. His girlfriend Linda is a journalist and almost constantly in danger. She even dies in this collection and Wally is left to mourn her. Also, apparently none of the speedsters have secret identities.

The stories have a few villains which inspired some of the villains in the Flash TV-show. It was very interesting to see them in action here.

The one offs are also pretty entertaining.

In “Through the Looking Glass” the Mirror Master traps Linda in a mirror world where she quickly ages in backwards, so it was pretty wacky.

“Still Life in a Fast Lane” is a more somber story. Jay is meeting an elderly supervillain who is dying of a brain tumor. He’s Clifford DeVoe or the Thinker. Jay suspects the Thinker’s old thinking cap could help DeVoe. But it’s not easy to find.

The final story, “Your Life is My Business”, is a humorous short piece where Mark Millar calls to the Flash asking his help in writing a ten-page Flash comic. Flash shows up.

Overall this was a fun and fast-paced collection. It has a lot of different artists who have different styles.

It’s quite different from the modern DC comics because the characters really form a family of experienced superheroes. Yes, there are a few teenagers or less experienced heroes, but the older people are around to teach them. It’s very different from when a reboot made the whole JLA first-time heroes. There’s a sense of continuity. Of course, that can be difficult to new and especially young readers to grasp. I guess that’s why DC decided to make their heroes younger.

Collects Batgirl issues 0, 7-13. It’s part of the New 52.

Writer: Gail Simone
Artists: Ardian Syaf, Vicente Cifuentes, Ed Benes, Alitha Martinez

The collection starts with a recap of Barbara’s life until now. It turns out that she was Batgirl for only one year before giving it up (the reason wasn’t given) for a while and then the Joker shot her. We also got to see her in action wearing the Bat-costume for the first time, which was very nice.

Then she battles villain after villain and deals with some personal problems while other problems are brewing.

First, she has a quick run-in with Grotesque who has energy powers and casually kills a man for a bottle of wine. Batgirl pursues him but finds out that one of his henchmen was with Joker when he shot her. She ends up letting him go which I found really strange at first but was nicely explained.

Then Babs confronts her mother who has come back after ten years and we find out that Babs has a young brother, James Jr., who’s apparently a serial killer. He’s supposed to be in Arkham but he’s out and seeing Bab’s new roommate.

Then we get a cross-over with the Batman’s Court of Owls storyline. I’ve only read the first collection, so I know a little bit of them but not much. The court wants to show Gotham that they’re the only salvation. So, they blackmail the commissioner into inaction by threatening Barbara while they assassinate the city’s leaders and send bombs to the city. Batgirl confronts one of the assassins, Talon. This was pretty well done. Even though the assassinations don’t play much part in Babs’ life, we get an interesting backstory for the Talon reaching back to 1944.

Next, the villain Knightfall and their cronies appear. While beating down car thieves, Babs wonders if it’s really the right thing to do, to protect rich people’s property from the poor. One of the thieves tries to get away and he steps into a bear trap. There’s a new vigilante group in Gotham and that’s the way they operate: Knightfall and the Disgraced want to kill (almost) every criminal in the city to get rid of crime, including young kids stealing cars. Babs, of course, fights them.

Knightfall is Babs’ new nemesis. Knightfall and the Disgraced all have tragic backstories; they aren’t in it just to get rich or to do evil. This sets them up as mirrors for Babs and I think we’re going to get a lot of debate and thinking about what is justified vigilantism. Batwoman also makes an appearance.

I liked this volume more than the previous one. Again, I loved Bab’s relationship with her dad. We don’t actually see them interact much but in the first story it’s clear who much dad means to Babs. I’m a bit dubious about the whole James Jr. and Babs’ mother storylines. Knightfall is a great adversary to Babs and I’m looking forward to their next match. The collection ends with a new rogues gallery for Batgirl which was great. However, the next collection is apparently another tie-in for Batman: Death of the family which (sigh) again stars the Joker. Hopefully, Babs gets to kick his ass once and for all, but I’m not really optimistic.

The art work is mostly very nice.

Collects Batgirl issue 1-6. It’s part of the New 52.

Writer: Gail Simone
Artists: Ardian Syaf, Vicente Cifuentes

I love Oracle. I’m sure I’m not the only fan who was unhappy with DC’s decision to give Barbara back the use of her legs and return her to Batgirl. This was done 2011 with the New 52 relaunch of DC comics and I waited until now to read this new Batgirl (who is already obsolete because the Rebirth made her apparently into a teenager…). But the writer is Gail Simone and I really enjoyed her long run on the Birds of Prey, so I shouldn’t have been worried. However, it’s clear that Barbara hasn’t been Oracle for all those many years. In fact, it’s stated that she was Oracle for only three years. Now, thanks to surgery and intensive physical therapy, she’s back as Batgirl.

Even though she was Batgirl before, she’s been out of the game for (at least) three years. So, she’s rusty and makes mistakes. She also freezes when faced with a gun because the Joker shot her. This makes her a very human character, especially since she doesn’t have any superpowers.

In the first storyline, a mystery man in black costume is killing people on a list. The last name on the list is Barbara Gordon. It turns out that he’s killing people who have miraculously survived when they should have died. Babs has to confront her own miraculous recovery to defeat him. The second storyline starts with a man killing his three sons and shouting 338. Someone is making people do very uncharacteristic things.

We also get a couple of subplots. Babs has moved away from her dad and has a roommate. Nightwing returns and so does Babs’ mother who walked out on her and her dad when she was a child. In the first story, because of Babs’ inaction, a police officer is killed and his partner is going after Batgirl, blaming her for his death. Instead of, you know, the actual person who killed him.

I enjoyed these stories more than I thought I would. I was dreading Batman sweeping in and taking over, well, everything since we are in Gotham. But the two final issues with Batman were very nicely done: it’s clear that Bruce respects Babs and will give her space to grow back to her hero role.

On the other hand, I feel that Babs is somewhat out of character. After years seeing her meticulously plan almost everything, here she is, rushing in without plans. Granted, when there’s a home invasion or mugging in process, she can’t really stop and do a Google search on the perps. But still it feels somewhat strange. Of course, this is a far younger Babs than the one in Birds of Prey. I’m also not a fan of continued romantic tension. I’d love to see Dick and Babs together and fighting crime together. (sigh)

Still, this turned out to be an interesting read and take on Batgirl. I already have the next in the series.

Oh and I loved the art!

A collection of Batgirl stories from her very first story in 1967 to the 1990s.

Writers: Gardner Fox, Frank Robbins, Elliot S. Maggan, Bob Rozakis, Davin Grayson, Kelley Puckett
Artist: Carmine Infantino, Sid Keene, Gil Kane, Murphy Anderson, Don Heck, Mike Grell, Irv Novick, Vince Collette, Duncan Fegredo, Terry Dodson, Kevin Nowlan

I confess: I don’t really know much about Batgirl. She was in some of the Batman cartoons but that’s about it. I’m far more familiar with Barbara Gordon as the wheel-chair bound Oracle. I think these stories are set in another continuity than the one I’m most familiar with. They’re all new to me.

While the collection starts with wacky and fun stories, the last two aren’t so good.

The collection starts, appropriately enough with Batgirl’s debut in “The Million Dollar Debut of Batgirl”: Detective Comics #359 in 1967. Barbara is the head librarian of Gotham library, wearing Princess Leia hairdo. 😊 She’s going to the policemen’s ball and has made a Batgirl costume for that. However, on the way she sees none other than Bruce Wayne attacked by Killer Moth and his Moth men. Barbara goes for the rescue and finds that she likes being a superhero, so she continues. She kind of helps Batman and Robin to capture the Killer Moth who is blackmailing millionaires.

She doesn’t have a tragic origin and I think that’s very appropriate for her. With nothing more than her Judo training and enthusiasm she’s just as capable of catching bad guys as Batman and Robin. Well, except that the males keep telling her to stop.

“The Orchid-Crusher” – Detective Comics #396 and “The Hollow Man” – Detective Comics #396 in 1970 is a two-part story where

Barbara hunts down a serial killer who kills young, redheaded girls.
This is pretty straight-forward story where we’re introduced to Jason Bard, a man who wants to be Babs’ boyfriend.

“The Unmasking of Batgirl” – Detective Comics #422, “Candidate for Danger” – Detective Comics #423, and “Batgirl’s Last Case” – Detective Comics #424 1972

Now this goes deep into the wacky country. In the first story, the “dominoed daredoll” encounters an ex-con who cons her again. At the same time, her dad is reluctantly running for congress. Babs becomes so disillusioned about her work as Batgirl that she decides to run for Congress instead of her dad, so that she can really make a difference. She also tells him that she’s Batgirl. The next two stories center around her campaign.

“The Invader from Hell” – Batman Family #1 1975
Barbara was elected into Congress and Dick comes to meet her there, just in time, too, because none other than Benedict Arnold seems to have come back from the dead.

“Startling Secret of the Devilish Daughters” – Batman Family #9 1977
Batgirl and Robin versus the daughters of Scarecrow, Joker, the Riddler, and the Penguin!

“Photo Finish” – Batman Chronicles #9 1997: This story jumps to a different continuity. Batgirl meets Batman and Robin for the first time (again). While Batman is, er, busy with Catwoman (and yeah, the sexuality is almost dripping from the page, ew) he sends Robin to find evidence of her burglary. Batgirl tags along. They find the real burglar and managed to first get into each other’s way but finally bring him down.

“Folie a Deux Part One” – Legends of the DC Universe #10 “Folie a Deux Part Two” – Legends of the DC Universe #10 1998: The last story in the collection has gorgeous art by Terry Dodson, but the story is… not good. It again returns to the roots of Batgirl being a hero. This story reboots her as Commissioner Gordon’s niece whose parents died young and the Commissioner then raised her. Babs is an angry rebel teenager who convinces Batman to help her train. Gordon spies on her and finds out that she’s the Batgirl.

Interestingly enough, while Dick and Barbara have long been an off-again on-again couple, they’re not together in these stories. In fact, in Photo Finish, Dick (as Robin) is drawn quite a bit younger than Babs. In “Invader from Hell” Dick is still trying to persuade Batgirl to stop being a hero and they don’t know each other’s secret identities. But in the next story “Startling Secret of the Devilish Daughters”, they work together comfortably and know each other’s secret identities. But Dick has a girlfriend.

The problem here is that, especially in comparison to Batman, Batgirl doesn’t get to shine on her own. She doesn’t have a rogue’s gallery. She’s intelligent and skilled but battles ordinary criminals. This isn’t the Babs I know from Birds of Prey and I find it hard to believe these are really her best stories.

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